Gov Careers

By Phil Piemonte

Blog archive

Out of sight, out of mind

Because we can’t bring ourselves to type the words “government shutdown” even one more time today, it seems like the right time to attack another subject. And that subject is…

The fourth Merit Systems Principle: High standards. Wait! — before you click the mouse away from this page — bear with us for a moment.

Remember when you were a Cub Scout or Brownie and had to take that pledge, whatever is was? The whole point of that exercise was to remind you that you were held to certain high standards — probably higher standards than most of the non-Scout kids you knew.

This principle has a scout sound to it, too: “All employees should maintain high standards of integrity, conduct and concern for the public interest.”

The Merit Systems Protection Board says that this principle “recognizes that public service is a public trust and that employees are obligated to honor that trust by respect for and adherence to the Constitution, laws, and ethical principles of government service.”

While some of that sounds highfalutin, a lot of the things that qualify as not adhering to high standards are rather pedestrian infractions that will get you fired at any job — public or private — such as being absent without leave, falsifying documents, criminal activity, misusing resources, etc.

But one MSPB statement on principle No. 4 caught our eye: “In order for an agency to accomplish its mission, its employees’ conduct must command the respect and confidence of the public.”

Depending on whom you listen to, the public may or may not be having a problem with the “respect and confidence” part of that right now.

Of course, thousands and thousands of feds go to their jobs every day without seeing anyone but other feds, and without interacting with members of the public. It's kind of hard to command the public’s respect and confidence when the public never sees you in action doing a conscientious, bang-up job day in, day out.

Maybe a government shutdown (darn, we said it again!) would help the public to better understand the important jobs you do.

Maybe it would make it a bit easier for you to command a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

And, of course, help you satisfy the fourth Merit Principle.

Posted on Apr 06, 2011 at 12:13 PM


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